…is the title of a thoughful piece by Barbara Brown Taylor published in the Christian Century. She refers to the Arian controversy and discussion at the bakery, and says
North Georgia has come to resemble Constantinople in at least one regard: no Episcopalian goes anywhere without being asked for his or her position on homosexuality. While no physical assaults have yet been reported, the debate has split churches and threatened budgets. It has also involved heated references to scripture.
The full text is reproduced below, with permission of The Christian Century as the original will disappear from the web soon.
Where the Bible leads me
By Barbara Brown Taylor
During the fourth century, at the height of the Arian controversy in Constantinople, one Christian wrote that it was impossible to go into a bakery for a loaf of bread without debating the nature of Christ. Was he the eternal Son of the eternal Father or was there a time when he was not? With bishops physically assaulting other bishops over this question and emperors changing sides on a regular basis, the debate spilled out of the church into the streets, where the Athanasians favored passages from John’s Gospel and the Arians shot back with passages from Mark.
When I read this chapter of early church history, I thanked God for letting me live in a later one. Then I got back to planning classes and grading papers. That was before the 2003 General Convention of the Episcopal Church, however, when a majority of delegates from across the United States confirmed the election of the Rev. Gene Robinson as the first openly gay bishop in the Anglican Communion.
Since then, North Georgia has come to resemble Constantinople in at least one regard: no Episcopalian goes anywhere without being asked for his or her position on homosexuality. While no physical assaults have yet been reported, the debate has split churches and threatened budgets. It has also involved heated references to scripture. Robinson fans tend to favor passages from the Gospels, while Robinson foes shoot back with passages from Paul. In the crossfire, it is not hard to understand why Anthony the Great fled civilization for the desert in the middle of the fourth century. Depending on who your neighbors are, snakes and hyenas can look like pretty good company.
The problem I run into at the bakery is that I do not have a position on homosexuality. What I have, instead, is a life. I have a history, in which many people have played vital parts. When I am presented with the issue of homosexuality, I experience temporary blindness. Something like scales fall over my eyes, because I cannot visualize an issue. Instead, I visualize the homeroom teacher who seemed actually to care whether I showed up at school or not. I see the priest who taught me everything I know about priesthood, and the professor who roasted whole chickens for me when my food money ran out before the end of the month. I see the faces of dozens of young men who died of AIDS, but not before they had shown me how brightly they could burn with nothing left but the love of God to live on. I see the face of my 16-year-old friend, still waiting for his first true love, who says that if he found out he was gay, he would kill himself. Other people have other stories, I know, but these are the stories that have given me my sight. To reduce them to a position seems irreverent somehow, like operating on someone’s body without looking him in the face.
I used to believe that swapping stories was one way to get closer to people who see things differently than I do, so that both of our truths get stretched, but I have almost given up on that. Where I live, at least, there is little sense that life stories can be “true.” Only scripture is true, so that the debate about the place of homosexual Christians in the church today hangs on what various biblical writers did or did not mean by one of five passages that were written at least 1,950 years ago.
I love the Bible. I have spent more than half of my life reading it, studying it, teaching and preaching it. While I do not find every word of it as inspiring (or inspired) as some of my fellow Christians do, I encounter God in it reliably enough to commit myself on a daily basis to practicing the core teachings of both testaments. When I do this, however, a peculiar thing happens. As I practice what I learn in the Bible, the Bible turns its back on me. Like some parent intent on my getting my own place, the Bible won’t let me set up house in its pages. It gives me a kiss and boots me into the world, promising me that I have everything I need to find God not only on the page but also in the flesh. Whether I am reading Torah or the Gospels, the written word keeps evicting me, to go embody the word by living in peace and justice with my neighbors on this earth, whatever amount of confrontation, struggle, recognition and surrender that may involve.
In this way, I have arrived at a different understanding of what it means to follow the Word of God. The phrase has become a double entendre for me, meaning not only the Word on the page but also (and more crucially) the Word made flesh. If Jesus’ own example is to be trusted, then following the Word of God may not always mean doing what is in the book. Instead, it may mean deviating from what is in the book in order to risk bringing the Word to life, and then facing the dreadful consequences of loving the wrong people even after you have been warned time and again to stop.
These days I guess everything sounds like a position, even a confession like this one. I do not know what is right. All I know is whom I love, and how far I have to go before there is no one left whom I do not love. If I am wrong, then I figure that the Word of God will know what to do with me. I am betting my life on that.
Barbara Brown Taylor teaches at Piedmont College and Columbia Theological Seminary.
All material copyright 2002 the Christian Century Foundation.
Copyright 2003 Christian Century. Reproduced by permission from the 20 October 2003 issue of the Christian Century. Subscriptions: $49/year from P.O. Box 378, Mt. Morris, IL 61054. 1-800-208-4097.
The book is REFORMATION: EUROPE’S HOUSE DIVIDED, 1490-1700 By Diarmaid MacCulloch, Allen Lane/Penguin, £25, pp.831, ISBN:0713993707.
This one on 1 November, in the Guardian from David Edwards, The door to a new church
Daniel Swift in the Spectator
And today, Richard Chartres in the Church Times
Richard Chartres says:
At a time when we are perhaps better able to appreciate and fear the reality of religious passion than our immediate forebears, MacCulloch helps us to enter into the minds of furious disputants. At the same time he exposes the many ironies in the story, such as the earnest efforts of the eirenic Cardinal Pole to reconcile the realm of England to the Roman obedience while being himself on the run from the Holy Inquisition.
As we ponder the reconciliation of the successor parts of the Western Church and reach out to the Christian East, this book helps us to understand the complexity of the task, and gives us the humility necessary if we are to make progress. Including the notes, select bibliography and the useful index, Reformation extends to 832 pages. Once embarked upon it, however, I found it impossible to put down.
According to the Church of England Newspaper last week: Anger over the Archbishop of Cape Town’s conduct toward his fellow African Archbishops may kill off plans for the 2008 Lambeth Conference to be held in Cape Town. While the invitation list and venue for Lambeth Conferences lie within the purview of the Archbishop of Canterbury, The Church of England Newspaper has learned that a number of conservative Primates will ask Dr Rowan Williams not to hold the next gathering of Anglican bishops in Cape Town. See African leaders want to block South Africa venue.
Wednesday’s Guardian has a column by Kenneth Stevenson, Bishop of Portsmouth, In defence of faith schools which responds to an earlier article Teaching tolerance which had the subhead “We should abolish faith schools - they breed only intolerance and isolation says Francis Beckett”.
Meanwhile, the BBC reports that the cathedral choir from Portsmouth has been, err, busy. Cathedral choir strips for calendar.
Another story in today’s Guardian is an Anglican one because it is an edited extract from the ninth annual Tyndale lecture, which Christina Odone gave last night at Lambeth Palace, Some may hate us, but here we stand.
Back on 1 October, I reported that Tom Wright had published a new book.
On Saturday 18 October I failed to report that Karen Armstrong had published an article in the Guardian, This is our heaven - or hell which comments on this book.
Yesterday, the Guardian published a letter by Tom Wright in which he claims she misrepresented his views. Later that day, an American New Testament professor wrote this criticism of Tom Wright’s criticism.
Well having started out to report this sideline, I may as well continue to provide a complete record.
On Tuesday, the Guardian ran this leader: It must stay resolute.
You can read what I think about the final statement from the primates meeting in my report on Anglicans Online. Alex Kirby’s comments really summed up my feelings very well, although I preferred the first version.
The Church of England and the other Anglican churches around the globe are sometimes unfairly caricatured as vague and unworldly. This time, though, it really is hard to think they share the same planet as most of humanity.
Whichever side of the debate about homosexuality and the church you find yourself on, this meeting has actually solved nothing. The threat of a split remains as potent as it ever was, and the crisis will come very soon.
I was at the press conference when the statement was presented. The most impressive person at the press conference was Michael Peers, Primate of Canada. No, that’s right he wasn’t on the panel, but he was at the back of the room and, after the questions were over, a big crowd of reporters and cameramen stood round him and asked him lots of questions. So many that one could hardly hear his answers. The TV crews included at least one francophone one, and of course he gave them all the same stuff in French.
This continued for so long that the conference organisers became desperate to get everyone out of the room, and close up, and so Peers and the reporters moved out of the building and continued the interviews outside on the street. This man’s ability to handle the press puts into the shade absolutely every other Anglican bishop I have ever seen. It was brilliant.
While I was writing that article on Friday morning, I listened to Rowan Williams talking to John Humphrys on BBC Radio 4 (Real Audio here, full text here). I found it hard to concentrate on what I was writing, as this interview was I thought really much more newsworthy than the primates statement.
And then just this morning I found on the Guardian website this comment by Simon Hoggart which although I would not have used the word “waffle” expresses much of what I felt at that moment (emphasis mine):
Heavens, yesterday morning’s interview with the Archbishop of Canterbury on Today was grisly. His pious yet agonised waffle as he tried to hold the line between those who are not bigoted against gays and those who are was almost too painful to listen to. (And proof that John Humphrys can achieve as much through icy politeness as raw aggression.)
He talked about “the homosexual community”, which made it sound like Ambridge. But he was also worried about the views of smaller branches of the church “often in third world countries” who would be upset by a gay bishop.
But what’s the point of having a church abroad if it doesn’t lead people towards tolerance? What’s the use of a mission that wrings its hands over the great issues of justice and humanity? He wouldn’t contemplate holding the ring between those who were against cannibalism and those who thought that, on balance, in its cultural context, it was a valid expression of a community’s values.
But then I felt a deep sense of relief. It’s nothing to do with me. I’m not one of this lot. I don’t have to worry, any more than I would need to take sides in a dispute in the Flat Earth Society over the existence of New Zealand.
Unfortunately, I don’t have that luxury. I am part of this lot. So this morning I went to church and prayed. And as the preacher said: “I have known a lot of bishops and priests, some good and some bad. And some straight and some gay.”
As somebody else said earlier this week, I have no objection to fundamentalist Christians so long as they are not practicing.
The BBC’s little tiff with Lambeth Palace over the John Humphrys interview on Friday gets more space.
On Saturday, it was also mentioned by Simon Hoggart in his diary column Pious waffle that helps no one.
Today, there is yet another story in the Observer, but I cannot find it on their website, Humphrys ‘close to quitting Today’.
The Telegraph has BBC defends decision to cut Today interview with Williams and a leader article Rowanspeak.
Main news today on the other channel.
The Saturday papers report a side story from the one about the communion breaking up. It seems that John Humphrys’ interview with Rowan Williams was longer than wot we heard.
Telegraph Humphrys ‘livid’ as BBC drops war interview
Times BBC cuts Iraq from Williams’ interview
Guardian Humphrys furious as BBC cuts interview
and you will find the cut questions and answers at the end of the Guardian story.
News items about the primates meeting are on the main TA blog.
Katie Sherrod, writing in the Dallas Morning News today has Episcopal critics have forgotten Christ’s teachings.
This story appeared yesterday in the Mail and Guardian, South Africa, Gay priests are ‘forces of evil’ in the church, reporting on Nigerian Anglican opinions.
Here in the UK, Reform wrote this letter to the Primates on 8 October which I had missed.
Tuesday’s main London newspaper stories are reported here.
Later in the day, the Manchester Evening News published this opinion article by Nigel McCulloch, Bishop of Manchester, Crucial gay question facing church.
The BBC published Leaders grasp church gay sex row. (There was also a major segment on the Newsnight television programme.)
Latest Reuters stories here and here.
Some useful reports from abroad:
The Christian Science Monitor (Boston, USA) published Anglicans gather to confront historic rift which includes an interesting table of comparisons with other American Christian groups.
In Australia, ABC Radio carried two interviews: Exclusion of gays ‘religious fascism’: Anglican priest and Jensen disagrees injustice committed against gay Anglicans.
From Sydney, where Peter Jensen has addressed his annual diocesan synod, the Sydney Morning Herald has this report and also this more general opinion column, An imposed unity could see church’s communion falter which ends:
Thus it was appropriate yesterday for Jensen to have asked the Synod to pray for Williams. But it is just as appropriate for others to wonder how long Sydney actually would tolerate an archbishop of Canterbury who began to function like a pope.
From Canada, the Toronto Star has Anglicans bracing for same-sex showdown.
The Vancouver Sun has Canadian clerics want U.S. groups to ‘stay home’ referring to the interference of some American bishops in the Canadian church.
From Nigeria, this story by Associated Press, Nigerian Anglicans in gay protest.
Robert Duncan, Bishop of Pittsburgh came on the Today programme this morning, right off the plane they said, to be interviewed along with Peter Selby, Bishop of Worcester. You can hear the interview with Real Player, by listening here. Peter Selby’s remarks are worth listening to. Meanwhile, Duncan’s hometown newspaper carries this comprehensive report today, Anglican leaders ponder U.S. conflict.
Ruth Gledhill in The Times has interviewed David Jenkins, Scrap Anglican Communion, says former bishop. This story also contains the statistic (not from Jenkins) that really there are only about 24 million church-going Anglicans in the world, not 70+ million.
The Telegraph’s Jonathan Petre has Williams gambles to heal division over gays which suggests RW will be taking a more moderate line on Wednesday and Thursday with the primates than some earlier reports suggested. OTOH, the Independent says Archbishop of Canterbury to take hard line on gay clergy at summit. Personally, I am more inclined to trust Petre’s version, even if some Telegraph sub has confused New Westminster with New Hampshire.
Thanks to Kendall Harmon for bringing to my attention this biographical article about Peter Akinola in the November Atlantic Monthly, Defender of the Faith.
If you find it hard to believe the right-wing conspiracy claims, try reading this story (although remember that the newspaper is owned by the Moonies), Conservative Episcopalians ready showdown. A quote for flavour:
A strategy session is set for tomorrow at All Souls Church, Langham Place, an evangelical parish in the West End of London. Conservative archbishops and other Anglicans - one of them being the Rev. Martyn Minns of Truro Episcopal Church in Fairfax, Va. - are arriving from around the world.
“We’ve worked out all the different scenarios as to what we’ll do,” says one of the planners, who asked to remain anonymous. “It’s not all wrapped up, although we do have the numbers. We will have to cut out the cancer instead of breaking the church up.”
One other point: the BBC’s World at One yesterday reported that only 4 Anglican primates who responded to their survey would accept homosexuality among priests in their church. You also need to know that only 17 primates responded (out of 38).
Time Europe has this article in its 20 October issue:
The Schism of 2003 Will the global Anglican church split in two over gay bishops? A meeting this week may decide.
The article quotes Peter Akinola as follows: “We are not breaking away. It is the heretics who will leave the church; we will send them away if they do not repent.”
Three superb radio reports on the current sexuality events, Real Audio required. The total listening time is about 17 minutes, well worth it.
Jane Little reviews events in Texas, interviews Bishop Duncan, and talks to both Giles Fraser and Martyn Percy, listen here.
Roger Bolton interviews Bishop Gregory Venables of Argentina, primate of the Southern Cone, listen here.
Roger Bolton then interviews Archbishop Njongonkulu Ndungane, listen here.
There was good stuff on other topics too, see details.
The BBC also interviewed both these bishops on the Breakfast with Frost TV programme, and here is the transcript.
Most sensational story of the day: Christopher Morgan reports in The Sunday Times, Gay bishop to come out in memoirs, that a Church of England bishop will disclose his homosexual lifestyle in an autobiography to be published on his retirement. He also confirms that at least seven of the present 113 Church of England bishops are either gay or bisexual.
Runner-up in the sensation stakes is the Sunday Telegraph, with a report that Over half of Anglican worshippers back actively gay vicars. An ICM survey of 500 regular churchgoers found that 52 per cent of those questioned supported the idea that active homosexuals should be ordained.
The Observer has two reports. In Williams reignites row over gay bishop Jamie Doward says that RW will argue that the actions of ECUSA defy the Church’s established position, and [oddly I think] that this is a surprise. More interesting is his other article US millionaire bankrolls crusade against gay Anglican priests which tells more about the right-wing bankrolling of American conservative groups like the AAC, on which I have reported here earlier.This story also quotes Philip Giddings as saying: ‘These are Americans and it’s the nature of their culture. The fact an organisation is bankrolled by wealthy individuals is not unique to the AAC or any other interest group. It’s a case of a lot of pots and not many clean kettles.’ Giddings goes on to say: ‘I would expect to see a reaffirmation of the position of the Lambeth conference. That has been the overwhelming view of Anglicans. It would take unique circumstances for the Primates not to reaffirm it.’
The Independent on Sunday has Call for end to gay priest ‘obsession’.
ABC radio in Australia has published a recording, and also the transcript of an interview with Stephen Sykes and others, Homosexuality issue threatens to split Anglican Church.
In The Times, Geoffrey Rowell, Bishop in Europe, who was with the ABC, writes about the visit last week to Rome. The love that binds the Churches of St Peter and St Augustine.
In the Guardian, Martyn Percy writes about the forthcoming primates meeting, Breaking up is hard to do.
So does Paul Vallely in the Independent, but the full text is available only if you have a paid subscription. Here’s the teaser anyway.
Faith & Reason: There is a way to avoid an Anglican schism at Lambeth next week.
The 38 primates who gather to confront the Church’s crisis over homosexuality need to avoid modern ways of thinking about sex and single issues
11 October 2003
To judge by what you read in the newspapers, a split in the Anglican Communion looks inevitable next week when the 38 primates who lead the 70 million-strong worldwide communion gather at Lambeth Palace for their emergency summit on homosexuality. Reports coming all week out of the pre-summit gathering of American hardline evangelicals have suggested that a potent international anti-gay coalition is consolidating.
First, two American newspaper reports.
One from the Associated Press, as seen in the Washington Post, Conservative Anglicans Rebel.
“The AAC clarified its statement earlier in the meeting that 46 bishops were attending the gathering by saying that only about half of those prelates are in the Episcopal Church hierarchy — the rest came from groups that have already left the church. Twelve Episcopal bishops took the platform at the closing session.”
And here is a report from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution Dissident Episcopalians call for action.
‘Like an angry Old Testament prophet, the Rev. David Anderson raised a wooden staff before the crowd of 2,000 dissident Episcopalians in a Dallas hotel ballroom Thursday.
“Pharaoh,” Anderson shouted, “Let my people go!”
The crowd joined in with hoots and cheers, as the conservative American Anglican Council took a decisive step in rebuking its denomination’s election of an openly gay bishop.’
Second, here is a opinion column from the local Dallas Morning News, with a perspective not shared by the attendees, Liz Oliphant: Matters of faith aren’t resolved by walking out.
“Of course, schism is nowhere to be mentioned in the resolutions that the various dioceses and individual parishes are being asked to support. Instead, we hear of “faithfulness,” “biblical patterns and revelations,” the “sanctity of marriage between one man and one woman,” “doctrinal and moral standards” and dozens of other euphemisms for what the goal seems to be - dividing the Episcopal Church into those who believe the general convention erred and the majority who voted to accept the election of Bishop Gene Robinson.”
Third, here is what the ECUSA Presiding Bishop had to say about the meeting.
“It therefore concerns me deeply when Christians use inflammatory rhetoric when speaking of one another or issue ultimatums.”
The British papers continue to report on the meeting in Texas:
Stephen Bates of the Guardian, actually in Dallas, has Vatican eggs on Anglican split in US which leads on the Ratzinger intervention.
The Times has this editorial, On schism’s brink as well as two news stories, US conservatives seek freedom to pray without gays from Nicholas Wapshott on the scene, and Archbishop must continue delicate balancing act to avoid schism from Ruth Gledhill in London.
Even the Independent, whose religious coverage is limited nowadays, had its Washington correspondent send in Schism looms as Anglican clergy oppose gay bishop
The Telegraph keeps its eye on the home front with St Paul’s service on Iraq to avoid triumphal tone.
The Church Times has several stories about Texas and about the Primates Meeting.
The Telegraph is alone this morning in reporting on a meeting of the English House of Bishops. ‘Healing’ session ends bishop row but clearly it is derived from the story to be published in tomorrow’s Church of England Newspaper, House of Bishops meets to regain a sense of unity.
The CEN also carries a clutch of stories about events in Texas and about the forthcoming primates meeting. The Church Times has promised readers a special feature on this too.
Thursday’s London newspapers have these stories:
Guardian, Stephen Bates, Rightwing aims ‘fuel gay bishop campaign’
Telegraph, Anglicans in US preparing for ‘civil war’
Times, Church ‘faces break-up’ over bishop
None of these stories include the extraordinary news that Cardinal Ratzinger has sent the meeting a message on behalf of the Pope. The text of this is reproduced below. The fact of this intervention is reported here.
What the Bishop of Pittsburgh said at the meeting can be found in full here, to give you a flavour of what the people at this meeting think should happen.
From Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger
Prefect of the congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
The Vatican, on behalf of Pope John Paul II
I hasten to assure you of my heartfelt prayers for all those taking part in this convocation. The significance of your meeting is sensed far beyond Plano, and even in this city from which Saint Augustine of Canterbury was sent to confirm and strengthen the preaching of Christ’s Gospel in England. Nor can I fail to recall that barely 120 years later, Saint Boniface brought that same Christian faith from England to my own forebears in Germany.
The lives of these saints show us how in the Church of Christ there is a unity in truth and a communion of grace which transcend the borders of any nation. With this in mind, I pray in particular that God’s will may be done by all those who seek that unity in the truth, the gift of Christ himself.
With fraternal regards, I remain
Sincerely yours in Christ,
+Joseph cardinal Ratzinger
American Episcopalians who are unhappy about their General Convention’s actions on sexuality are meeting near Dallas Texas this week. Stephen Bates has written about this in the Guardian, US Anglicans set for split over gay bishop, and earlier had filed Gay bishop opponents meet in US. The BBC has also reported on this, US protest over gay bishop.
Despite these headlines, it’s worth noting that these people are not merely opposed to one particular bishop, but also to the approval given by the Convention to services of same-sex blessings at local diocesan discretion.
The organising body, the American Anglican Council has published this draft of the resolution that the meeting is going to be asked to adopt. Bearing in mind that the only people allowed to attend the meeting are those who have first signed up to this statement of faith it’s unlikely to change a whole lot. Here is the draft agenda for the meeting.
The finances of this body are an interesting subject. A recent report on this aspect was in the Church Times.
Later Note: Here is the New York Times article mentioned in a Comment below, Conservative Anglicans Rally to Reorganize Church Power, and here is a National Public Radio interview with various participants and others.
Jonathan Petre of the Telegraph was with the Archbishop of Canterbury in Rome and filed these reports on Monday:
The Pope was frail, his hand trembled, but his sheer willpower shone through and
Williams keeps to Church tradition on gays which rather confirms the view expressed on Sunday by Andrew Brown.
Meanwhile The Times published these two stories:
Evangelicals warm to the Pope
Gay row risks Catholic links, says Williams
And also, this radio report on the BBC (needs Real Audio) link here includes quotes from what RW said at the press conference.
Andrew Brown, in the Sunday Telegraph has an opinion piece, entitled Poor Dr Rowan: solving the gay row will only lead to another one in which he suggests that RW will side with the Africans, and attempt to close down the dispute by announcing that the Church takes a “biblical” view of sexuality. The article needs to be read in full though.
The Sunday Telegraph: Archbishop of Canterbury pays homage to ‘dying’ Pope
The Sunday Times: Pope rebukes Williams on gay clergy
The Observer: Church rifts remain after Pope meets Archbishop
Later addition: The Independent: Pope rebukes C of E over gay clergymen
Today, the main Anglican news is about the visit of the Archbishop of Canterbury to Rome. Below is a link to what the Archbishop said to the Pope at the Vatican. What the Pope said can be found here - in English.
Today The Times carried this report, Hardliners use Pope’s decline to delay ecumenism, says Anglican, in which the new Director of the Anglican Centre in Rome, Bishop John Flack is extensively interviewed by Rome correspondent Richard Owen.
‘Gay’ church service offer rejected from the Manchester Evening News on 2 October. The Bishop of Manchester offered LGCM the opportunity to join the regular cathedral morning service on 26 October, but they had already made other arrangements. The bishop had met the LGCM secretary earlier, see New hope on service axed at cathedral, story dated 29 September.
A story from Associated Press, dated 1 October says Vatican Sees Anglican Ties Progressing and has an interview with the Bishop of Rochester. More on the ABC’s visit to Rome later.
See report here on Ruth Gledhill’s NEAC reflections.
See report here on today’s Guardian Face to Faith column by Christopher Rowland.
The CEN has a story in tomorrow’s issue, already on the web, about a Plot to silence the Primates’ gay debate which sounds like something right out of a Whitehall farce.
There is a longer version of this article on Kendall Harmon’s blog here.
Three items in Thursday’s Melbourne newspaper The Age caught Google’s alert eye :-) with Anglican content.
Muriel Porter’s Pell’s promotion cements push to a narrow church is subtitled The rise of traditionalists in Catholicism and Anglicanism puts the gospel in danger. About Archbishop Jensen, she says “Jensen’s activism on the world stage is geared to undermining the Anglican leader, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams… In a chilling recent interview, Jensen has said that the primates, when they meet in London in mid-October, must “offer such discipline to the North American churches that they could be faced with the need for repentance”. And the only discipline available is “withdrawal of fellowship”. He continued: “This is necessary because all around the world, not least in Africa, association with the decadent West is being used to criticise Christians and hinder the work of the gospel.”
In another article, Sydney bishop: time’s up for gays the newspaper reports in more detail on the content of an article to be published in Britain in the October issue of New Directions, the FiF magazine. Here is part of what The Age reports.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, has “misjudged the present situation, and his peaceable approach has run out of time”, Dr Jensen writes.
Dr Jensen believes Dr Williams has three options. The first is to do nothing - but this would confirm the authority of heretical dioceses and drive orthodox believers out of the church.
The second option is to recognise both positions on homosexuality as valid, but conservatives could not accept this. It would ensure Anglicanism became merely a loose network rather than a church, Dr Jensen writes.
The third is to expel the US and New Westminster from the Communion. This would be the riskiest and bravest option, and would force many liberals out of the church, but would send a powerful moral and spiritual message to the church in the West, he writes.”
I will link to the full article in New Directions as soon as it is available.
Oh yes, the third article from Melbourne is a bit of an anti-climax, Church turns the other cheek reports that retired bishop John Spong will preach in Brisbane Cathedral this Sunday, a contrast to 2001 when the former archbishop banned him.
Today the Telegraph has a story, a background piece, and a leader, all about a document found, or leaked, from Lambeth Palace about spin management. However, it turns out the document was written last June, which makes it a lot less interesting now.
Secret paper reveals Church spin plans to defuse gay crisis
The gatekeeper at Lambeth Palace
PR for JC
Later note: The Times carried a similar story.
Much more interesting is the story in The Times about what Tom Wright thinks.
Durham’s new Bishop abolishes Heaven and the soul. This relates to his new book For All The Saints? due to be published by SPCK on 24 October. Dr Wright says that Anglicans have drifted into a “muddle and a mess” over what happens to people after they die. They have put together “bits and pieces” of traditions, ideas and practices and created a “fudge” around the eschatological concepts of death, judgment, Heaven and Hell, he says.
Diarmid MacCulloch’s stunning radio interview yesterday is discussed on the TA blog.